Importance of Letters of Recommendation in Law School

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Recommenders are people who know you well and can objectively describe activities you have been involved in or comment on your character, talents, or intellect. They fill out forms or write letters. Although a few law schools discourage you from submitting letters of recommendation, most actively seek them, claiming that they provide valuable information about your potential for success in law school.

Importance of Letters of Recommendation in Law School

How Many Recommenders?

Each law school determines how many letters of recommendation it wants you to submit. Most indicate, either in their catalogs or in the instructions that accompany the packet of blank application forms, that they require or "strongly recommend" two, three, or four. If you don't submit the required minimum, the law school may consider your file incomplete and take no action on it. Some law schools try to notify candidates if their files are incomplete. Others do not. Whether you are notified or not, you'll be rejected if your file remains incomplete when the school's application deadline has passed.

Some law schools have set maximums or ceilings. They state in their catalogs that they will read no more than four, or five, or six letters for any one applicant. They do so to protect themselves against uncontrollable increases in their workloads. The limits are also meant to discourage you from submitting barrages of letters from famous or politically influential people (perhaps friends of your parents) who know you only superficially. Law school representatives have reportedly received applications accompanied by as many as 30 superficial letters; they view these letters either as camouflage meant to disguise an otherwise poor record or as efforts to exert political influence. (One law school official described a blizzard of letters praising a poorly qualified applicant as an "epistolary snow job.")

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